February may be the shortest month of the year, but it turns out to be the month we recognize the biggest cause of vision loss: Macular Degeneration, or AMD. More than 10-million Americans are affected by AMD, that’s more than people affected with cataracts and glaucoma combined.
The truth is that you or someone you love can be at risk for macular degeneration. Let’s outline some of the ways to see if you have the beginning stages of AMD, the leading cause of blindness in Americans 60 and older.
The first indication could be what you see or don’t see:
- Early signs of AMD include blurred vision and trouble distinguishing color and fine details.
- Difficulty seeing when going from bright light to low light and the need for increasingly brighter light to see up close.
- Colors appear less vivid and the vision is often hazy, or you see a blank or blurry spot in your central vision.
As the condition worsens, you could even lose your center of vision. Source AAO.
The Best Defense Against AMD is a Good Offense
The American Macular Degeneration Foundation recommends that you test your vision using The Amsler Grid (figure A below). It’s a lined graph that helps you determine if you have AMD.
Figure A above is the normal Amsler Grid. Wear your reading glasses and look at the grid holding it 12 to 15 inches away from your face in good light following these instructions. You can print the grid here:
- Cover one eye.
- Look directly at the center dot with the uncovered eye and keep your eye focused on it.
- While looking directly at the center dot, note whether all lines of the grid are straight or if any areas are distorted, blurry or dark.
- Repeat this procedure with the other eye.
- If any area of the grid looks wavy, blurred or dark, contact your ophthalmologist.
- If you detect any changes when looking at the grid, you should notify your ophthalmologist immediately.
Figure B above is the way the chart could look to you if you have age-related macular degeneration, with wavy lines and a black spot seen at center. Use the Amsler Grid to help you spot AMD early, so you can continue to enjoy clear vision.